Linda and I both grew up occasionally feasting on perogies hand made by our mothers. Along with other calorie laden foods, they certainly played a role in creating my rounded stomach as a young boy and teen. They weren’t a frequent treat so I never grew weary of them. Their rich flavour and aroma still linger in the deep recesses of my memory. The memory is always accompanied by mental images of sitting at the table with the family at Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and a few other occasions. Holiday meals were a special delight for mom. She loved to observe us enjoying her sumptuous meals, always encouraging us to partake heartily.
Sadly, these good family times ended when mom passed away. Fortunately Linda’s mom continued to make perogies though. Most of her family enjoy them as much as Linda and I. That too ended when her years began sapping her energy and strength. Now age 92, she has less interest in food preparation and perogies are definitely no longer on her menu. The commercial variety are ok but we buy them only when we are virtually quivering with the need for a perogie fix.
Family experiences with one of our very favourite foods explains why this Easter weekend was especially memorable in a culinary sense. Maha, our Iraqi born sister-in-law and the newest addition to the family, had accepted responsibility for preparing the family meal on Sunday.
Encouraged by her husband Gary, Linda’s brother, she learned to make perogies a few years ago. She was guided in this, step by step, by Linda’s mom. To ensure nothing was overlooked, Gary stood by patiently with a pen and notebook, meticulously recording each step. He’s as seriously hooked as we are.
When we walked into the house on Easter Sunday, Maha had a variety of dishes almost ready. Apparently the excitement of the preparations had stirred Linda’s mom to play a role. Wooden spoon in hand, she was stirring the gravy. Seeing that I’d just be a nuisance to the several cooks now engaged in last minute ministrations, I went out and walked around the block. This would be a meal for which I wanted a hearty appetite.
After brother-in-law Stan had prayed a blessing on the food, we sat down to a dinner reminiscent of meals my mother prepared for special occasions. It awakened memories of those good days when my parents still lived and our family enjoyed mom’s cooking.
A note about Maha: She fled with her family from Iraq to Turkey some years ago, then immigrated to Canada. Certainly we have known from the beginning she’s a treasure. The perogies have boosted her to star status in the family.